Staying Sober Around Friends Who Drink

Staying sober around friends who drink can be challenging but manageable with the right strategies. It’s essential to be honest with your friends about your decision to stop drinking and ask for their support. For many in recovery, the hard work begins after the treatment program ends. For those whose lives previously revolved around drinking, learning to integrate into a life of sobriety and navigate a “new normal” can be challenging. While it is important to wait until you are confident in your sobriety before putting yourself in potentially risky situations, it’s not always possible to avoid every social, and sometimes professional, event that involves alcohol. 

Peer Pressure To Drink :

Anyone that has tried to give up or moderate their alcohol intake has probably experienced social pressure from others encouraging them to drink. The reasons for this are varied, but research on the subject has revealed some interesting phenomena.  According to Dr Simon Lenton of the National Drug Research Institute of Curtin University: “Essentially, we are tribal social animals. As a result, we have evolved tendencies to support group cohesion by conforming to group norms and shunning non-conformity.

So if we tend to associate with people who are like us and engage in similar behaviors, and we start doing things in a way that goes against the group norms, such as not drinking in a social situation, this can be a challenge to the acceptability of that behavior in the group.” However, even if you are worried that your friends may not understand your new-found sobriety,  being prepared and having a plan can help you enjoy socializing after you’ve quit drinking. 


Be Honest With Your Friends :

It’s up to you to decide how much information you share and who you share it with, but having an honest discussion with your friends about your reasons for sobriety can help them understand your decision. People who love us generally want the best for us and letting your friends know how important it is to you that they are supportive can go a long way.

Have An Exit Strategy :

It’s important that you are able to leave if you are feeling tempted to drink, or even if you’re just not having a good time. While you can always just leave and are not obliged to give a reason why it may be helpful to have a scripted excuse. Social situations during newfound sobriety can be stressful enough, without the added stress of worrying about whether you have offended someone. After all, sobriety can be an adjustment for everyone involved. A few examples may be that you have to get up early for an event, you have plans to meet someone or that your lift has arrived. 

Have A Drink In Hand :

Having a non-alcoholic drink in hand can be the first line of defense against any potentially pushy friends when you are not drinking alcohol. Being able to say “No thanks, I already have one” is a way to be able to decline without having to explain why. Choosing something other than water or soda, such as a mocktail or fancy cooler can also help you feel less deprived.

Go Places That Don’t Serve Alcohol :

Being more selective about where you socialize can go a long way in avoiding the temptation to drink. In early recovery, it is important to focus on activities that don’t involve alcohol. Even if you’ve had a previously successful outing to a bar or pub without drinking, this is a risky situation that should be avoided.

Museums, cinemas or a trip to the theatre can be a great way to socialise without booze. You may find that you are socializing more during the day, but having a valid social life does not mean it has to happen in the early hours of the morning.

Plan The Next Morning :

One of the greatest rewards of sobriety is saying goodbye to hangovers. Planning an activity for the next morning not only helps to ensure that you will leave before temptation strikes but is also a way to appreciate the time that would otherwise be spent on the couch with a crippling hangover. Planning a breakfast out, a hike or a trip to the local market are just some of the ways you can have a productive morning because you chose sobriety.

Recovery852 assists individuals and families struggling with addiction and other mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Our primary goal is to help clients break free from harmful behaviors and to shift from a life of chaos, conflict, and crisis to recovery and wellness. Contact us now.